Packed into a tiny corner of Books@Cafe in Amman, around fifty people gathered to read and listen to Rachel Corrie’s words on Friday night. The event brought Americans and Jordanians to an event because people seemed to be craving some sort of political activity–especially Jordanians. Although this wasn’t a demonstration in the streets or anything like that, I think–I hope–that it energized people to do more. Coming on the heels of the Jericho invasion it was moving to be reminded of Corrie’s writings on the numerous invasions she encountered in Rafah, Ghaza.
One Jordanian friend asked me what I thought about the fact that this white, blonde, non-threatening, American woman gets so much attention when so many Palestinians die in silence as far as people on the other side of the Atlantic are concerned. I do think that racism undergirds this issue and is why she is a voice that Americans, for instance, are willing to listen to when they can’t hear the words of Palestinians themselves. But I don’t think it can be reduced merely to an issue of race or nationality. Bearing witness is crucial in any conflict–both bearing one’s own and also those of people whose voices can’t be heard by a wide enough public. I believe that bearing witness to another person’s pain or suffering is one of the most important things a human being can do. And because it is so difficult for people to listen to what Rachel had to say–even three years after her death–I think this is a clear indication why her writings must be widely read and studied.
The Nation has two really interesting articles this week about this issue. One “An American Inquisition?” highlights precisely how Zionist intimidation functions in the U.S. The other “Too Hot for New York” is a really thorough piece on the play and its censorship.
On another note, President Jimmy Carter published an interesting article in Ha’aretz this weekend.